Gamera Invades Korea!
Heisei Trilogy will be screened at Japanese Film Festival in Korea
Author: Kim Song-ho
Official Site: The 6th Megabox Japanese Film Festival
The Heisei Gamera trilogy — GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (Gamera: Daikaiju Kuchu Kessen, 1995), GAMERA 2: ADVENT OF LEGION (Gamera 2: Region Shurai, aka GAMERA: ATTACK OF LEGION, 1996) and GAMERA 3: AWAKENING OF IRYS (Gamera 3: Iris Kakusei, aka GAMERA: REVENGE OF IRIS, 1999) — will be screened in Korea at the 6th Megabox Japanese Film Festival, running November 11 to 15 (Korean date).
Megabox Japanese Film Festival (J-MEFF) is a collaboration between Megabox Cineplex, a large cinema chain in Korea, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Since the premiere festival in 2004, J-MEFF is held in November. Each year it introduces both new and classic Japanese films to Korean audiences and is now one of the most well-known Japan-related film festivals among Korean film buffs. Megabox also hosts the Megabox Euro Film Festival, a European equivalent of J-MEFF, every October since 2001.
Every year certain themes are chosen for J-MEFF. For this year, “passion” has been chosen as main theme, with “series” and “new films” for sub-themes. The Gamera films were picked for “series” section, along with Shochiku’s BAD BOYS OF KISHIWADA (Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai) films, the first of which is known as BOYS BE AMBITIOUS in English-speaking territories and two later entries released on DVD in the U.S. as the YOUNG THUGS series.
Shusuke Kaneko, director of the Gamera trilogy, is visiting Korea for the festival and will meet the audience in person for most of the showings. He will also attend a symposium on Japanese genre film on November 15. The panel will be hosted by Terawaki Ken, a Japanese film critic and also the programmer of J-MEFF. Other panels include Korean director Ryu Seung-wan (DIE BAD, CRYING FIST, THE CITY OF VIOLENCE and DACHIMAWA LEE) and Horan, a Korean musician well-known in her native country as a singer for the band Clazziquai. Hong Gi-hun, founder and moderator of the biggest Korean monster movie club ‘Big Monster Club’, has provided Gamera figures from his vast collection of monster toys for a special exhibition.
The screenings of the Heisei Gamera series at J-MEFF will not be the first time Gamera is shown in Korea. Originally, GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE was scheduled for general release in the summer of 2000. For Korean monster movie fans that was “the monster summer”, as three major monster movies were to be released — PULGASARI (1985), GODZILLA 2000 (Gojira Ni-sen Mireniamu, 1999) and GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. The Gamera movie was dubbed in Korean and given the laughable title GEOBUKWANG GAMERA (Turtle King Gamera).
Between July and August of that year, PULGASARI and GODZILLA 2000 were released but with dismal box office results. That prevented GAMERA from coming ashore and the print was shelved for years. The film finally saw the light of day, now promoted as simply GAMERA (but with the silly GEOBUKWANG GAMERA title onscreen), in April 2003 and quickly disappeared after a few days of limited showings. Fortunately, it was released on DVD and VHS later that year.
Two years later, in August 2005, the whole trilogy was screened at the 1st Goyang International Children Film Festival (now defunct). It was the first time GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE were shown with its original language track with subtitles, and marked the Korean premieres for both GAMERA 2 and GAMERA 3. GAMERA 2 and the latest film GAMERA THE BRAVE (Chiisaki Yushatachi – Gamera, 2006) were screened Japanese with Korean subtitles at the Seoul Animania Festival in November 2007. With the exception of GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE, the rest of the Gamera series, including the older Showa films and GAMERA THE BRAVE, have yet to be widely released in Korea.
The 6th Megabox Japanese Film Festival will be held at Megabox COEX which is located in Samsungdong, Seoul. Below is the full list of films at this year’s festival.
FEEL THE WIND (Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, 2009) – Director: Sumio Omori
– GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE
– GAMERA 2: ADVENT OF LEGION
– GAMERA 3: AWAKENING OF IRYS
– BOYS BE AMBITIOUS (Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai, 1996) – Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu
– YOUNG THUGS: INNOCENT BLOOD (Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai: Chikemuri Junjo Hen, 1997) – Director: Takashi Miike
– YOUNG THUGS: KISHIWADA BOYS BASEBALL TEAM* (Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai Yakyudan, 2000) – Director: Takeshi Watanabe
Section: ‘New Films’
– OSAKA HAMLET (Osaka Hamuretto, 2009) – Director: Fujiro Mitsuishi
– ROMANTIC PRELUDE (Oto・na・ri, 2009) – Director: Naoto Kumazawa
– GUARDIAN ANGEL (Shugo Tenshi, 2009) – Director: Yuichi Sato
– SLACKERS (Surakkazu, 2009) – Director: Masahiro Muramatsu
– RAISE THE CASTLE! (Chikujo Seyo!, 2009) – Director: Yo Kohatsu
– PASSION (2008) – Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
– YUZURIHA* (Yuzuriha: Kimi mo Mata Tsugi no Kimi e, 2009) – Director: Kentaro Hayase
– MAMESHIBA (Yoju Mameshiba, 2009) – Director: Toru Kamei
– RECORD OF WANDERING VIRGINITY* (Dotei Horoki, 2009) – Director: Yuichi Onuma
* Note: These English titles are direct translation by the author and may differ from the actual English release titles.